Parabens are several distinct chemicals with a similar molecular structure. Four of these are used frequently in cosmetics: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. These chemicals are used in beauty products and cosmetics to prevent the product from spoiling or developing microbes. They are most common in personal care products that contain significant amounts of water, however they may also be found in products including deodorants, scrubs, foundations and eye makeup.
What you need to know
The greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens have actually been found in biopsies from breast tumors.
The chemicals are also linked to reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. As parabens are used to kill bacteria in water-based solutions, naturally they are going to have some toxicity.
Pregnant women and young children are the most vulnerable so it is advised to stay away from parabens where possible. Some forms of parabens are even banned in Denmark in cosmetic products for children up to 3 years!
How can you avoid them?
Look for products labelled “paraben free” and read ingredient lists on labels to avoid products with parabens. Many natural and organic cosmetic manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products. All beauty products and cosmetics used and sold at Brisbane Natural Beauty are paraben free!
Jane Ryder – Natural Beautician – Diploma of Beauty Therapy, Certificate of Ancient Healing Hot Stone Massage